Merriam-Webster defines surveillance as “close watch kept over someone or something (as by a detective).” While not all family law cases rise to the level where surveillance is necessary, many do. So, when is it warranted? Let’s find out.
One example of when surveillance would be useful is when one parent is attempting to serve the other parent with legal papers to initiate child support proceedings. While most parents provide for their children appropriately, there are those who shirk that responsibility and do everything they can to avoid being held accountable. Private investigators often use surveillance and other tools to track down the erring parent in order to serve them with process or to learn where the parent is working so that the parent’s wages may be garnished to obtain the child support.
Child custody is another instance in which surveillance can prove incredibly useful. As an example, there are many cases where the court orders there to be no overnight guests in the home when the child is present. When one parent violates that directive by having his/her new girlfriend/boyfriend over, surveillance may provide the video and photo evidence needed to have the judge intervene and hold the offending parent in contempt. It is also useful in child custody cases to document what the parent does with the child during visitations.
Surveillance is almost always useful during divorce cases when one parent suspects the other of being unfaithful. In North Carolina, for example, the law considers cheating on your spouse to be “marital misconduct” and having evidence of it may significantly reduce or eliminate alimony payments. An experienced private investigator can be the key to long-term savings.
In summary, surveillance often provides the evidence needed to change the outcome of child support, child custody and divorce cases.